Learning Your Way Around

Hi newbie friends!

Last week I gave you the run down on what you can expect out of O-Week and what things you should make the most of.  Now orientation is slowly coming upon us, first the international students this week followed by all students next week.  Right after that we launch straight into semester, so there’s no time like the present to start getting acquainted with our wonderful campuses. This particular blog is pretty specific to Melbourne Bundoora (because it’s HUGE!), but any of our regional readers can take a leaf and prepare themselves in similar ways.

Two blogs ago I went through all the different ways to navigate and connect with the La Trobe website.  One of the specifics I talked about was signing up for tutorials. Your subjects should be appearing on the LMS from later this week, meaning your lecturers will be notifying you soon about what days next week you can login for your tutorials (by smartphone, your laptop/computer, or on campus in the library or student hub – using your username and password).  Well in addition to planning your O-Week schedule for next week, I am suggesting in this blog that you work out where your classes are as well so that you can know where they are before you find yourself overwhelmed and pushed for time in Week 1.

Visit the Timetables page to write down the locations of your lectures, and tutorials/practicals/workshops. Selecting your campus then entering your subject codes (that look like SOC1SAC) will bring up a list of the lectures, which are compulsory, usually once a week events, and tutorials, which offer a number of options to choose from. By now I hope you have pieced together the puzzle to know what you want your schedule to look like, with a top 3 list of tutorials per subject to try to sign up for. Take a note of the locations listed ready for O-Week, where at your leisure you can try to figure out where they actually are, and as you successfully sign up for the tutes, you need only locate the one you are in.

Deciphering the locations is quite easy. The following applies to Bundoora – but the other campuses should follow a similar structure. The locations are coded by building first in letter form and then numbers, first number being the floor (1-6) and the following two numbers being the room. So, MARB 132 would be in the Martin Building, first floor, room 32. Some lectures are located in the bigger theatres, like Agora Cinema, Hooper-Szental Theatre (aka Schnitzel Theatre), Airport Lounge etc, so they are listed accordingly. The Glenn and Menzies College Seminar rooms are in the respective college buildings, upstairs on the first floor; Menzies being accessed at the left side stairwell beside Residential Services while the Menzies Conference Centre is further north east entered near the Menzies gym and café. Glenn College stairs are easier to find, on the right side of the courtyard. Despite being the biggest uni campus in the southern hemisphere, most of the buildings are quite close together so don’t feel daunted – you can even check out a map at any time to remind yourself of locations, download the ‘lost on campus’ app or take a self-guided tour.

Walking to your classes ahead of time allows you to figure out the time you need between classes to get from one to the next (10 mins at Bundoora is not unusual). This is particularly important when you have back to back classes. In theory lecturers typically finish their class on the hour and you have until ten past the hour to get to your next class, but some start earlier and if you are crossing campus or want coffee or a bathroom break in between you are not left with much time. Fear not though, nobody cares if you are late, just sneak in quietly.

I learned two helpful ways to get around in my first days, and I think they saved me from getting too lost back then. Look at your map, and zoom in on this link. The Agora or Ag is the main square and located at the centre of the campus. Initially in your first weeks, use it as your centre-point or starting base and then figure out where things are in relation to the Ag. The other tip is to treat the second floor as the ground floor or main level. Pathways run outside the buildings all the way around campus on the second floor and can make it much easier to get around. Treat the actual ground level as a lower level, like a basement in a store and try going down there only if you are headed for the Ag or the library. Remember these two tips and you will start finding your way around easily in no time. 🙂

On a final, somewhat related note, it’s good to learn, in your own time, the following key services that La Trobe provides and make sure you take note on your orientation tour with your Connect Mentor, where the services are:

STUDENT HUB AND YOUR FACULTY OFFICE.

You know student hub – you went there to get your ID done. Here is where you do the majority of your administration things that require payment. Your faculty office is where you will do the things relating to subject changes and enrolment. So if you lose your ID, if you want to pay any fees (except for the union membership), and each year when you buy your concession card for public transport, student hub is the place to go. Usually once you are set up at the beginning of the year, you probably won’t go there that often, but they are a very friendly bunch and always available to help you out.  If you ever hit financial strife they also offer financial assistance including emergency loans – worth remembering.  On another note they have open spaces to hang out with your friends indoors during rainy season, and computers to help you log on to uni stuff.  Cafe Digital on the righthand side is also a great place for quick printing as an alternative to the library.
The faculty office is my main hangout. But I change my subjects around a lot. If you are like me, get to know where it is. Some faculties have a drop in system, but plan ahead as their lines may be long and each student may take a while. I prefer to stop by at the beginning or end of day, or on Fridays, instead of between classes. Much quicker and then I’m not as worried about the poor person stuck in line behind me while I take ages with the staff. The HUSS faculty is now working on an appointment-based system, so if you have issues during O-Week or the first weeks make sure you book your appointment to sit down and get the right advice.  To access the faculties online, go to the Current Students page, and look for the small right-hand menu listing each faculty as a link.

THE UNION AND UNIVERSITY SERVICES.

Student Union are your representatives and also provide a ton of services to you, as a member or not.  That $130-odd amenities fee you will pay each semester goes to them in order to offer you the best possible support through your degree.  Student Union membership is worth considering too for the discounts it offers. For $40 there are a wealth of discounts, including $20 off carparking permits. Only you can be the judge of whether it will be useful to you, but I encourage you to check it out.  The Union offer many kinds of support services including legal, tax and advocacy and connect with students in a variety of ways, such as through the uni newspapers the Rabelais and Ratsheet, the Thursday market and through theatre. They also have a list of all the clubs and societies on campus, worth taking a look for the great opportunities for friendships and fun.
La Trobe also offers a range of services not linked to the union, including counselling, student enrichment, career development, equality and diversity, security traffic and parking, chaplaincy and indigenous and international students. To access them all, just go to the La Trobe Current Students page, and scroll down to Campus Specific Resources. Student Enrichment is worth checking out if you, like me, are interested in leadership, community volunteering and mentoring. There is a La Trobe Award you can apply for, which recognises your community services via volunteering and will look great on your transcript!

Okay, with an informed idea of what you want to do and attend during O-Week, and now the tools you need to get around campus and get access to help when you need it, I think you are as ready as you can be for uni.  This week your Connect Mentor will be emailing you to identify him/herself and encourage you to come find them on Tuesday.  I hope my series of blogs will mean you are among the more well-prepared newbies to set foot on campus this and next week.  Don’t forget the New Students and Ready4Uni pages are great resources as well to refer back to for answering all your questions.

The next blog will cover textbooks and subject guides and planning out your semester – all you need to know ahead of your first lectures!  Have a great last week of summer! Bec.

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